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Research Letter |

A Comparative Analysis of the Quality of Patient Education Materials From Medical Specialties

Nitin Agarwal, BS1; David R. Hansberry, PhD1; Victor Sabourin, BA1; Krystal L. Tomei, MD, MPH1; Charles J. Prestigiacomo, MD1,2,3
[+] Author Affiliations
1Department of Neurological Surgery, New Jersey Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Newark
2Department of Radiology, New Jersey Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Newark
3Department of Neurology and Neuroscience, New Jersey Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Newark
JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(13):1257-1259. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.6060.
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Given the access to a seemingly unsurpassable amount of information online, one can understand why the Internet has become one of the most commonly used sources of information, including health care–oriented resources. According to a 2011 study performed by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 59% of Americans use the Internet to find and understand health care–oriented information.1 However, a potential problem is the difficult reading level of the patient-specific education materials. The average American adult reads at approximately a seventh to eighth grade level.2 Therefore, the American Medical Association, the National Institutes of Health, and the US Department of Health and Human Services advocate for patient education materials to be written at a fourth to sixth grade reading level.24 As explored in this Research Letter, we assess the readability of patient education resources by using various readability parameters. To our knowledge, this is the first study to compare the readability of patient education materials to comprehensively assess the quality of resources provided by various medical professional organizations.

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